Have you been feeling upset, disappointed or resentful because you don't feel loved by your boyfriend or spouse? What is love supposed to look like? What will that special someone have to do or say to reassure you that you are loved? Which of your expectations are not being met?
Perhaps you assume that your partner will demonstrate affection in certain ways or provide sexual satisfaction without having to be told what turns you on and how often you require sexual contact. Do you demand that your lover thinks like you, votes like you, or has similar interests and beliefs or does a partner who introduces you to new ideas and experiences that delight you turn you on?
There are four types of communication that lovers use to show their partners that they care or want loving closeness. Are you and your lover using the same language of love? Most of us prefer one more than the others.
Kathryn came for counseling because she and her husband Leo were having sexual problems. She complained that he often grabbed her breasts when she was getting dressed or undressing at bedtime. There was no sweet talk or gentle nuzzling first, only what she described as a full frontal assault. She didn't reciprocate since she felt attacked. As a result she rebuffed any other advances.
Leo couldn't understand why she reacted so strongly since he found her alluring and desirable. He wished that she would grab him like that and felt disappointed that she couldn't give in to her "lusty side." It wasn't that Kathryn was a prude. She enjoyed sex, however, she responded best to a more romantic approach.
She liked it when her husband first murmured loving words and touched her gently, allowing her to get in the mood for more. She wasn't able to persuade Leo and didn't know what to do to make him change. Leo obviously was a tactile person who felt happiest with his wife when she took the initiative and touched him. Touch is an entirely different kind of love language.
He resented her for not wanting to do that more often. The reason that it rarely dawned on Kathryn was that touch was not her favorite language of love. Since she didn't like to be groped she couldn't imagine feeling good doing it to Leo. Kathryn felt most content when Leo used words of love and told her how much he cared and how he loved to look at her. She recalled that they used to exchange greeting cards and love poems when they first met. She still had a collection of the special ones that Leo had sent her over the years of their marriage.
If you are like Kathryn you need to stop expecting your lover to automatically get the message. Tell him clearly how loved you feel or how turned on it makes you when he talks sweetly to you in ways that make you feel adored and cared about. The more that you reinforce these positive actions, the more your partner will think of adding that to his romantic vocabulary. If he feels awkward about telling you how he feels, he might consider sending you greeting cards that express what is in his heart.
A third way to express love is well-known to all of us, giving gifts. We are prompted throughout the year to remember birthdays, anniversaries and especially Valentine's Day. Many people are extremely thoughtful and love to give gifts, since they also love to receive them. What do you tell yourself if your lover doesn't shower you with meaningful presents?
Gift giving can be tricky when you equate gifts with love. Sandy never forgave her husband Gabe for spending more for a Christmas present for the dog than he did for her holiday gift! The reason she knew this is because she handled their funds and paid the bills.
Expectations that your spouse or lover must share your values and beliefs about money: spending, saving and investing, can lead to disaster. This couple eventually divorced because the disparity in their beliefs and behaviors led to bankruptcy!
The fourth way of expressing love is through doing thoughtful or helpful things for the one we love without being asked. When my husband changes the windshield wipers on my car or offers to run to the store for eggs because we are out of them I feel great warmth and appreciation for how he takes care of me. In return I am happy to do small things for him to make his life easier.
When you feel exasperated with your partner because you have been trying to express your needs and he still doesn't get the message, take time to discover what is at the heart of your belief that he doesn't love you. Have a serious discussion about what is creating this disharmony. Ask yourselves this question and share your answers.
More love advice on YourTango: